Sunday, July 20, 2008

AK Details Begun...

Day 1 and 2 of the Alaska Trip: 

First off, we got up very early in MN to catch the first 5.5 hour flight up to Anchorage.  So we started off tired and didn’t catch up for a while because of the time change, but we just had more travel on the schedule anyhow.  Didn’t have to be rested up for much running around yet.  When we arrived in AK, we pretty much just had to do some “trip chores”, such as get to the rental car place and pick up our hunk of crap Fort Escort that would be taking across the state, find the local natural food store, find a campground for the night and set up, etc.  We then decided that we were super exhausted and just felt like eating some local seafood and sleeping instead of doing the camp cooking/cleaning thing, so we ended up at the Glacier Brewhouse, and famous local AK brew and seafood place in downtown Anchorage.  I would definitely recommend it, whether a good India Pale Ale or a 5 pound king crab is your fancy. Then we turned in back at the tent for our first rainy and bright AK night.  (It rains a lot, and pretty much is never really truly dark in the summer.) 

The next day, we woke up early for AK, late for St Paul; perfect.  Somewhat rested but still a little groggy, we jumped in the rental car and made the drive up to Denali National Park; about a four hour haul.  We did it in about six though after stopping for some groceries we forgot the first day, and of course for some scenery gawking.   When we got to Denali, we set up at the Riley Creek Campground at the mouth of the Park, and took in the Visitor Center, Wilderness Access Center, and Backcountry Information Center.  Denali’s website pretty much tells you that as far as backcountry hiking goes, there is not a whole lot of specifics you can plan at home, since the park is divided into sectors, and backcountry permits are giving out first come first serve the day before your hike.  So, bring the normal navaids and buy a bus ticket to your hike the day before.  They have a shuttle bus service on the parks only road, a ninety mile gravel track that cuts into the interior.  The park is three time the size of Yellowstone, yet has basically no trails.  It’s all wild backcountry, and you access it by way of the super restricted bus road, or by air, or by our own feet.  Awesome.  Keep it wild.  Keep Caribou Coffee out, and the real Caribou in.  Damn right.  After making plans for our days up there, we took the park road as far as private vehicles are allowed (15 miles in) to the Savage Creek area, where we planned to do a day backcountry hike.  I know, you can’t really claim it to be “backcountry” in it’s purest form if it’s a day hike but it was pretty wild.  We got our first wildlife viewing in heading out to this area, seeing moose, caribou, and ptarmigan.  We were very impressed with the scenery of the Savage River, which is a gravel bar “braided” river, typical of low lands around glaciers.  There will be more on this area in the next post.  

Outside the Delicious Glacier Brewhouse.  Mmmm.

Driving up to Denali:

Stopping along the road at Hurricane Gulch:

There were a ton of people traveling the right way: losing the job for a while and living on two wheels...sweet:

Mother Ptarmigan and chick.  Fun to watch, but sometimes hard to see when they don't move; they turn bright white in the winter as well:

Impressed by the Savage River gravel bars (which aren't in fact very savage when the bears aren't around):

One of the many many wildflowers of the interior Alaskan Tundra.  Pretty place...

I like Alaska, she says!

Going to sleep at 11:30pm, but it's bright as day outside.  Wierd.  Never turned my headlamp on the whole trip...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

back from the far north

Alison and I are back from AK.  That is a very good state.  Yes.  I can't possibly include everything about our adventures in one blog entry, so I think I'll break it up as I have to time to write, which unfortunately, tonight, I have none of.  But here's a teaser picture to keep everyone interested:

Stay tuned...